Saturday, October 10, 1998
credit card a right approach
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya
NO other public problem has been more widely discussed in India than agricultural indebtedness throughout the 20th century.
on rice front
failure of apple crop hits farmers
By Suraj Bhan Dahiya
NO other public problem has been more widely discussed in India than agricultural indebtedness throughout the 20th century. The peasantry has already staggered into a ruinous economic situation. It is visible that the balance of economic power is now shifting and creating social tension in the Indian society.
According to Famine Commissions of 1880 and 1901, at least four-fifths of the cultivators were in debt and were fast losing possession of their lands. The Government of India, therefore, initiated some measures to tackle the problem by passing the Punjab Land Alienation Act, 1901. But the laws were too complicated for the unsophisticated peasants to understand and they gave a decisive advantage to the money lenders. The Act could hardly ameliorate the lot of the Punjab peasant.
Paradoxically, Punjab, in spite of its comparatively good conditions, was the heavily indebted province of British India. Malcom Darling in his authoritative book "The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt" estimated the debt burden at Rs 90 crore in 1921 engulfing 80 per cent of the state peasantry. Indebtedness had reached too high a pitch and the peasantry continued groaning under its weight. This irked the Royal Commission on Agriculture, 1928, to remark: "No one, we trust, desires to witness the continuation of a system, under which people are born in debt, live in debt and die in debt, passing their burden to those who follow."
The Government of India addressed the debt burden problem to the Indian Central Banking Enquiry Committee which in 1934 put the figure of total rural indebtedness of India at Rs. 900 crore. In the post-independence period Thirumalai estimated the rural indebtedness at Rs 1,800 crore.
At present, the loans of farmers from government agencies in the country stand, at Rs 19,000 crore. The outstanding loans from money lenders are the multiple of the above estimate and it is agreed upon that the total debt burden on peasantry is equivalent to the total black money circulation in India very grave situation indeed!
"Credit", says an old French proverb, "supports the farmers as the hangmans rope supports the hanged." But if credit is sometimes small it is often indispensable to the cultivator. That the cultivator cannot carry on his business without outside finance is a fact proved by history and evidenced by the appalling indebtedness of the persons engaged in the business of agriculture. According to the findings of the Rural Credit Survey Committee, the amount of debt owned to money lenders was 44.8 per cent of the total debt in 1956-57. This proportion is over 47 per cent now. And it is a matter of great anxiety since the government institutions in spite of a wide network have not measured up to expectations in disbursing credit at the retail level. I quote the findings of a recent study headed by J.N.L. Srivastava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Union Government. "Farmers indebtedness is on the rise in Haryana and Punjab as most of them are preferring money lenders over commercial banks. Suprisingly, nearly 60 per cent of the farmers in Punjab and 45 per cent in Haryana are heavily dependent on money lenders for short-term loans at exorbitant rates of interest ranging from 24 to 36 per cent. The share of commercial banks in providing credit was almost negligible in Punjab it was 4.71 per cent against 5.67 per cent in Haryana during 1996-97."
At present, nearly Rs 5,700 crore loans are due to Punjab farmers and Rs 3,300-3,500 crore to Haryana farmers. If this is the debt scenario in the two most agriculturally advanced states of the country the fate of farmers of other states can be well imagined.
The money lenders take full advantage of farmers limitations. Once the peasant has taken a loan from the loan shark he is permanently in debt trap.
The fact remains that the agricultural sector has been discriminated against over the years and the fatalism that has gripped the farmers is now manifesting itself in large-scale tensions in the rural economy. There exists a substantial gap between the demand for and supply of agricultural credit. The government is seized of the problem. Now efforts are being made to meet the credit requirements of 77 million small farmers of the country. An ambitious plan of Rs 1.49 lakh crore of NABARD is also in the offing.
Meanwhile, promising to free the farmers from the perennial indebtedness the kisan credit card (KCC) scheme has become operational. The scheme is being implemented through commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks. The scheme will help end exploitation by money lenders.
The farmers may get short term, revolving cash credit etc. under the scheme which attracts 8 per cent interest. The farmers are now eligible for a production credit of more than Rs 5,000.
The credit limit on the card is fixed on the basis of operational land holding, including leased land, and the cropping pattern and scales of finances as recommended by the district or state-level technical committee.
The banks too have the
freedom to fix appropriate sub-limits for credit,
considering the seasonality in credit requirement. The
KCC is, thus, one right step forward to make the
peasantry free from dept. Hopefully, the national
agricultural policy, likely to be announced soon, would
act to transform the peasantry into a prosperous society.
New challenges on rice front
By A.S. Prashar
AS Punjab harvests another bumper paddy crop and the "jiri" begins to flood the grain markets for procurement by government agencies and private millers, farm experts at Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana and elsewhere have warned that in the year ahead increasing rice production to meet the rising demand in the country will not be a simple matter.
Population growth is the major challenge all over Asia, including India. The global food projections for 2020 A.D. made by the International Food Policy Research Institute indicate that the demand for rice will increase by 60 per cent. For low-income countries of South and South-East Asia, rice demand may double within the next 40 years. Indias rice production target for 2020 is 140 million tonnes. Achievement of the targeted production would be an uphill task in the coming decades with the shrinking natural resource base, deteriorating soil health and soil productivity, declining input use efficiency, plateuing of yields in irrigated ecologies and lack of major yield breakthrough in rainfed ecologies.
The future rice research may have to deal with exceptional challenges. Raising the long stagnating yield frontiers, finding ways to ensure sustainability of rice production under intensive cultivation and resource management in ecologically handicapped rice lands while protecting the environment are some of the first challenges that be dealt with our resources and research capabilities, the farm experts point out.
The most significant achievement of the independent India is the transformation of the country from chronic deficit to food self-reliant nations. The major contribution to the food production was from rice (42 per cent). Figures available with PAU indicate that rice production increased from 30 million tonnes in 1965 to 81 million tonnes in 1996-97. In this, 50 million-tonne gain, high-yielding varieties, enhanced fertiliser use and better crop and pest management account for up to 77 per cent, while area expansion for 8 per cent and irrigation coverage for 15 per cent. This has enabled the country not only to do away with imports but also to accumulate 16 million tonnes of rice as buffer stock and export sizeable quantity (5.6 million tonnes in 1995-96).
Diversity in rice ecosystem and climate widely influence rice yield and its growth rates. The average yields in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab are 1.2, 2.1, 2.5 and 3.4 tonnes per hectare, respectively. Rice yields recorded under upland, deep water, shallow lowland and irrigated ecologies also differ widely from 0.71 in upland to 2.67 tonnes per hectare in irrigated conditions.
Rice production from 1965 showed a progressive but variable increase. The past three decades witnessed a dramatic increase in rice production: 11 million tonnes in the 1970s, 20 million tonnes in the 1980s and 13 million tonnes in the 1990s.
Growth in the northern region contributed the maximum to rice production and yield. During 1973-81, an annual rate of 9 per cent was achieved through increased productivity in this region. But from 1982 to 1990, there was a deceleration in production from 9 per cent to 5.2 per cent and area from 4.4 to 1.1 per cent. More disturbingly, the production gains declined to 2.3 per cent during 1991-95. This yield deceleration, particularly in the northern region, is regarded as a matter of great concern as it contributes major quantity to the central pool.
In southern states during 1982-90, the production growth of 3.5 per cent resulted due to high-yielding varieties (HYV) spread, higher input use and increased area under irrigation. During 1991-95, it declined to 2.5 per cent through 1991-95 due to reduction in the area. The eastern region known for low production levels for decades, registered more than 5 per cent growth rate during 1982-83 and 1989-90. The western region also recorded positive trends with 5.4 per cent growth during the period.
The slow growth in yield is due to:
In case a pyrilla attack is noticed on sugarcane, apply Thiodan 35 EC or 225 ml of Folithion/ Sumithion/Accothion 50 EC per acre in 200 litres of water.
Start sowing wheat varieties, namely PBW 343, WH 542 and durum wheat like PDW 215 and PDW 233 under irrigated conditions and PBW 299 and PBW 175 under rainfed conditions from the last week of October. Termite is a serious pest in light textured soil, particularly in barani areas. Before sowing, treat wheat seed with 160 ml of Chlorpyriphos 20 EC per 40 kg of seed.
Loose smut: Treat the seed of all wheat varieties, except that of PBW 138, PDW 233 and PDW 215, with Vitavax at 2 g/kg or Bavistin/Agrozim/Derosal/J.K. Stein/Sten 50 at 2.5 g/kg seed for the control of loose smut. Treat the seed with Captan or Thiram at 3 g/kg seed for the control of root rot, foot rot, seedling blight, black tip and black spot of glumes. Captan and Thiram treatment should not be done earlier than one month of sowing as it affects seed germination.
Mamni: The disease is not soil borne. The infection starts from the galls mixed in the seed at the time of sowing. To separate the galls put the seed in ordinary water and agitate vigorously. The galls will float on the water surface. these may be removed with sieve and burnt.
Flag smut: To control flag smut, treat the seed before sowing with Thiram at 3g/kg or Vitavax at 2g/kg or Bavistin at 2.5g/kg seed.
In rainfed areas wheat should be sown after applying 35 kg of urea, 100 kg of superphosphate and 20 kg of muriate of potash per acre in sandy loam or heavy soils. In light textured soils 18 kg of urea, 50 kg of superphosphate and 10 kg of muriate of potash may be drilled. The remaining nitrogen i.e. 35 kg of urea for finer soils and 17 kg of urea for sandy soils may be applied with winter rain. In irrigated areas of the state, in the absence of soil test wheat crop required 110 kg of urea, 155 kg of superphosphate and 20 kg mutriate of potash/acre during the life span. If 55 DAP/acre is used as a source of phosphorus then reduce the dose of urea by 20 kg/acre. Nitrophosphate (20:20:0) at 125 kg/acre can also be used in wheat. If 125 kg/acre nitrophosphate is used then reduce the dose of urea by 45 kg/acre.
Grow GL-769, PDG-3 and GPF 2 between October 10 to 25 in the central and south-western districts and PBG-1 and C-235 varieties which has resistance to gram blight in the sub-montane districts.
The best time of sowing kabli gram (L-550) in the state, except for humid areas of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Ropar, is last week of October under irrigated conditions.
Treat the seed with Bavistin plus Thiram (1:1) 3g or Hexacap 3 g or Royal 2.5 g per kg of seed for the control of blight.
At the time of sowing, drill 50 kg superphosphate and 13 kg urea per acre but in case of kabli gram, drill 100 kg superphosphate/acre.
(Progressive Farming, PAU)
Successive failure of apple
FIRST it was delayed rains and now the less market price is troubling the apple growers in Himachal Pradesh this year. All estimates of a bumper crop have failed as the nature has played havoc and almost a drought-like situation has arisen in the lower and middle belts.
The fruit could not gain the required size and remained very small to be filled in boxes. Most of the growers are supplying a bulk of fruit in gunny sacks to some government procurement agencies on a support price of Rs 3.75 per kg.
Surprisingly these agencies, instead of processing the procured fruit for making juice, jams and other by-products, are selling it in the open market and thereby affecting the prices of quality fruit. It has been given in different markets of Chandigarh, Haryana, UP, and various local mandis of Punjab, according to some growers. Selling this apple in far-off markets like MP and Bihar will not have any adverse affect at all, says some officers from the HPMC and Himfed.
The HPMC has refused to accept the small-sized mite-affected apple from the farmers. It is even doing grading of the fruit, says Sanjay Chauhan, a grower from Rauni, near Kotkhai. "Four kg of extra fruit is taken from us, and the price of the gunny bag, which costs Rs 15, is not reimbursed to farmers," adds Chauhan.
This is no market intervention scheme (MIS) where the culled apple is taken from the growers and then sold in the market, says Ravindra Machaik, a Kotgarh orchardist.
Under the MIS the government should stabilise the price of produce and should intervene if it is going down, he says. The government should stop the commission agents in Delhi from charging unauthorised 8 per cent commission, says Chauhan.
The procured fruit should be processed, distributed free of cost among patients or school children or even destroyed but should not go to the market, feels most of the farmers.
But still the major cause of concern to most of the growers is the successive failure of crop. Excessive and early sprays of different pesticides has resulted in this continuos failure, as a number of farmers are realising now.
Till 1983 just one, very mild spray of insecticide, was given at the fruit set stage, says Machaik. But now various insecticide and pesticide companies have mushroomed and they are pushing their products through various universities.
The farmer is confused and ends up ultimately doing a barrage of sprays resulting in pestilential and toxic repercussions on the plants. A massive leaf fall is already occurring in the Kotgarh area. The process of photosynthesis for forming carbohydrates cannot take place and the overall plant remains malnourished and the fruit remains undersized.
More than 50 per cent of fruit dropped from the trees this year in the Kiari area in Kotkhai, says Col M.K. Chauhan, an orchardist from Kanletta. Outrageous use of medicines on plants for early ripening of fruit has also resulted in loss to farmers as they are getting very low rates in the market.
It is the small and marginal farmers who are affected most by the successive failures of the apple crop. It is not possible even to meet the orchard inputs, says Dr Onkar Shad, an apple grower and Kisan Sabha leader.
There was a great fear of shortage of trucks and packing boxes this year in the case of a bumper crop. But the delayed rains overturned the applecart of farmers and there is no dearth of trucks and boxes. The district administration with a control room at Bhakalti and sub-control rooms at Kharapather, Hartkoti, Chopal, Rampur and Narkanda has surplus trucks now.
A timely arrangement is made with the operators from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. Goods tax is exempted, some roads were repaired and cranes were fixed in different locations for helping stranded trucks by government nodal agency.
Some local private truck operators are also warned by the government this time against fleecing the growers or doing any other undesirable activity during the apple season.
Punjab Agricultural University has released the following varieties of crops for cultivation
PR-113: It is a new variety of rice with an average plant height of 105 cm. It matures in 142 days after seeding with an average yield of 2800 kg of paddy per acre. It is resistant to all the races of bacterial blight pathogen prevalent in Punjab.
LHH-144: Worlds first cotton leaf curl-resistant hybrid was recommended for general cultivation in Punjab. It possesses okra green leaves, big boll size and is suitable for cotton-wheat rotation. It gives 15 per cent higher yield over hybrid Fateh and 30 per cent over F 486. It possesses 28.8 cm 2.5 span length coupled with high fibre strength which is suitable for spinning at 40 counts.
PBM I: This variety of kharif mungbean is recommended for the south -western plain zone. It is fairly resistant to YMV, leaf spot and anthracnose. It gave an average yield of 510 kg per acre in research trials and 382 kg per acre in adaptive trials.
Parkash: This maize hybrid released in Punjab in March, 1997, has been identified by the all-India maize improvement workshop for the whole country. It is an early maturing, drought tolerant, single cross hybrid and possesses orange frint grains.
For the baby corn cultivation, composite "Kesri" and hybrid "Parkash" have been recommended.
SH 3322: A private
sector sunflower hybrid of Cargill Seeds Private Limited
was recommended for general cultivation in Punjab. It has
medium height (160 cm). Its seed is black with 100 seed
weight of 5.1 g. It matures in 120 days. It gives an
average seed yield of 8.4 q per acre at regional stations
and 8.2 q per acre on farmers fields. It has 43 per
cent oil content.